Hue Robertson

Cannes: The Shift from Traditional Advertising to Engagement


RPM’s Head of Creative, Neil Hooper, takes a look back at this year’s Cannes festival, highlighting the industry shift from traditional advertising to engagement.

Cannes is the international recognition of creativity and advertising and is globally renowned as the industry benchmark in creativity. This year there has been a major shift.  The festival is no longer just advertising, it’s a festival of creativity full stop. The categories have changed, and been re-titled. As a representative of the industry, Cannes has come to an understanding that the origins of creative input have changed, as has the media it’s being used in and as a result, the categories have grown and altered to shape this evolving industry. Cannes has opened up to all agencies, all channels and all disciplines and quite frankly, advertising has become a small category within a much larger playing field.

Some would argue that Cannes has been gradually shifting toward a more integrated approach over the last few years. Take for example the Nike Chalk-Bot campaign that won the grand prix in the Cyber Lions category in 2010. By awarding this campaign, they’d already begun to see the uprising in Digital. The beauty in this change is that all involved are free from the restrictions of the 30 second ad. In this day and age, if you have an idea, it can live far longer.

Previous speakers at Cannes have included key leaders from JWT and BBH, but interestingly this year they were replaced by others such as the MD of Facebook, Caroline Everson. Using alternative speakers has opened up a bigger creative community than it has ever done before. Cannes used to be all about awarding TV ads, but media has changed and the landscape has changed.  It’s not about TV ideas anymore; it’s about big creative ideas. This change has come into fruition because the origin of where the ideas come from has shifted. The award winning ideas are no longer coming from the big ad agencies; they’re coming from the smaller independents. It’s this real change in attitude, shift from the norm, and open minded approach that I find interesting and exciting going forward.

The winning agencies are categorised within what they call the ‘BRICs Market’ (emerging markets) mainly Argentina, Brazil and Romania, with (interestingly) London and New York left trailing behind. If I was looking at a recruitment strategy with this in mind, I would look to pick up talent from those countries; which I have been. One of our recent Designer recruits is from Brazil where he used to own a design agency and our Creative Group Head is from Amsterdam. The latter is a country that has a 360 approach; there is no BTL or ATL split in which is so refreshing.

The topic of engagement was at the forefront of every speech including that by Andy Fenner whose whole presentation was based around engagement. Angela Huffington from The Huffington post also addressed the change in media from print to Digital by referring to their recent takeover by AOL and also addressed the four pillars of brand engagement.

At RPM we launched five rules of engagement earlier this year that we apply to all of our campaigns, and truly believe that taking the engagement approach to communications is the next crucial step in BTL advertising. Our five rules of engagement are as follows:

1) Create a shared purpose with your audience

2) Create a value exchange

3) Make a clear path to participation

4) Capture the imagination

5) Place as much emphasis on what you intend to do as what you intend to say

  • Steve Radford

    Hi Hugh – just thought you might want to know the Nike Chalk-Bot link in your blog appears to be broken.